Thursday, December 19, 2013

India : The Srikakulam Girijan Sangham by Indian Comrade

Below I am submitting a compilation from 2 letters from the Srikakulam Girijan Sangham (compiled from 1992-1993 issues of ‘The Comrade’) the 1st one addressed to the C.P.I (M.L.) peoples war group and the 2ND to  everyone..

I am posting it in memory of late comrade Nirmal Krishnamurti ,who was the secretary of the Girijan Sangham and Srikakulam Rama Rao,2 major architects of the Sangh.

They reflect an outstanding class analytical revolutionary democratic approach. They relate the history of the Srikakulam Grijan armed struggle in light of the mass line and mass revolutionary democratic perspective. 

In that period group clashes of armed squads between different revolutionary groups was a common reccurence.The author cannot forget the clashes between the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.) Chandra Pulla Reddy group and the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.) Peoples War group..

The author bows down to the immortal sacrifices of the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.) PWG and does not underestimate the importance of armed struggle. 

However this note reflects on the weakness of correct military line in relation to the mass revolutionary movement. The role of armed squads is debateable but I cannot deny the bravery of the PWG in withstanding the enemy forces.

Sangh upheld a mass revolutionary political approach. Above all it was an ideal illustration of mass revolutionary democratic political approach asserting the role of preparedness of masses and building of peoples mass movements. 

The author wishes readers to refer to notes written by the late Comrade Tarimela Nagi Reddy in the early 1970’s on the mass line in armed struggle, combating the left adventurist line of Charu Mazumdar.

The Sangh reflected great clarity and grasp of mass line and above all never resorted to slandering the PWG,which so many groups did in the 1990’s.

In the end I am posting a small tribute to it’s secretary who was martyred in June,1996. and another veteran comrade.

In 1958 the Srikakulam Girijan Sangham was formed. This was a separate organization formed for the protection of the tribal´s rights.

The Sangham was formed in 1958 under the leadership of the Communist Party of India.

The Issues included illegal taxes and extortions by landlords, vetty (Forced Labour),unfair practices in the purchase of minor forest produce gathered by the Girijans, and wages for Agricultural labour.

The first Girijan Public meeting was held at Mondem Khal in 1961 when 4000 people from hundreds of villages heard about the Conspiracy of the landlords and the Girijan Resistance. 

The base of the Girijan Association was enlarged and the non-Girijans of the plains began to support the movement. At the 1964 Panchayat Elections, the Girijans participated around such democratic issues and defeated the landlord candidates.

However the village Girijan committees proved more effective as means to represent Girijan demands and implement them. The Girijan Village Committees had begun to function as parallel courts in the late 1960´s. Now the Girijan Resistance took shape of a major agrarian movement. Land was re-distributed, village level defence squads were set up People´s Courts were launched. 

These Peoples Courts were known in Telegu as the Ryotanga Sangram Samiti. The Government counterattacked launching a fresh bout of repression. Mass arrests took place. Villages were raided, police camps were set up etc. False Encounters were staged. In Maripadu and Boddapadu villages whole communities were illegally held.

Police Forces would surround villages by night and randomly picked up people giving them prolonged detention and torture Villages sympathetic to Revolutionaries were attacked in the Vietnam style.
From late 1988 the Srikakulam Girijan Sangh launched an agitation to protect regulation 1/70 that protected the land rights of the Girijans.The agitation had a significant impact on the girijans  and had enormous political significance with certain groups like C.P.I.(M.L.)Prajapandha  group, not supporting the agitation and the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.) peoples War group virtually shying away from it.

 In July 1989 the Srikakulam Grijan Sangh held it’s 2nd conference with 2000 delegates and it’s membership and activities were regularized.

The following leaflets were issued by the Srikakulam Girijan Sangh  in the Bhadragiri Agency area unOctober 1991.This area had been the focal point of the Srikakulam Girijan peasant struggle. 

In 1992 ,squads of the peoples war group toted the area and exhorted the girijans to support their group, stating they possessed the required armed strength, both in quality and quantity to match the might of the ruling classes and the government.

They were either critical or appreciative of the leadership of the Girijan Sangh and the communist revolutionary leaders like T.Nagi Reddy.

Their visits created confusion amongst the girijans of that area.

In response the Girijan Sangh gave an open letter to the Peoples War group, narrating the experiences of the Srikakulam Girijan peasant armed revolutionary struggle since 1959.They included the positive experience of the mass revolutionary line followed for a decade from 1959,as well as the subsequent negative experience of line of armed squad actions incorporating politics of annihilation of class enenies.”

In that time hostility existed between factions of various communist revolutionary group and every group suspiciously viewed the entry of another group into it’s area of work. The group already working in an area views the entry of another group as an intrusion in it’s own domain and similarly views it’s own extension into areas of other groups, as a method of dislodging the groups already working in that region.

This led to inter-group clashes of squads of revolutionary groups .The people were reduced to mere spectators without having any say in the issues of contention. The Girijan Sangh issued this leaflet, in the overall context of conditions existing in light of mass movements.

This leaflet has a significant message as it projects a revolutionary-democratic approach to the problem faced by the girijans.It places the issues before the struggling masses to judge the merits of the policies of the communist revolutionary groups.

1st letter addressed to Comrades of the C.P.I.(M.L.)Peoples War Group(October,1991)

“In addressing you as comrades’, we have to make our context clear. Today, all those who are raising crops-are not able to enjoy the fruits of their labour.With most of the cultivable land in the hands of the landlords, the landlords expropriate the land of the laboring masses, themselves to dire poverty and hardships.

‘In those days ,under the leadership of Vempatu Satyam,the Girijan Sangh began to work with the view  that there should be a change in the lives of the Girijans,and that for such a change to come about  all the lands under the occupation of the landlords in the agency should be appropriated by the Girijans.

At that time, when the Girijans were waging hard struggles against the landlords, comrade Vempatu Satyam told us that all of us who participate in struggles against exploitation by the landlords, that whether we are Jatapus or Savaras or any others,we are all one We are all “comrades” and should call each other so.

We participated in struggles as a single entity,as comrades.In our opinion ,you too want to end this feudal exploitation. That is why we address you as “comrades.”

‘Those who have entered the agency area in the name of trade, have resorted to cheating the Girijans by taking advantage of their innocence. Multiplying usurious debts and interest rates ,they have illegally usurped all the lands that the Girijans had brought under cultivation  by clearing the forests.T he Girijans were driven to live wretchedly at the mercy of these traders-landlords—and to do bonded labour.’
‘Thus under the leadership of the Girijan Sangh ,the Girijans,gradually understood the perpetual deceptionand exploitation by these landlords, began to unite and started to wage struggles against the deception and expoitation.Right from 1959 the landlord’s government used to foist cases against us and dump us into jails.Every passing day there used to be a larger or smaller Girijan Trek between the jail and one or their village of the Agency.’

‘Courts and jails could not stop the struggle by the Girijans.Under the leadership of the Sangh,the Girijans marched forward in struggles against the illegal possession of the landlords,against the unjust usurious interest rates, against the minimal labour wage rates and the dismal wages of farm servants and to re-occupy lands usurped by the landlords through extortions. While fighting against the atrocities by the forest officials and the police, the Girijans achieved victories against feudal exploitation.’
‘In 1967, when preparing to hold the Girijan  Sangh conferences and deliberate on the problems of the movement, the landlords attacked the delegates going for the girijan conferences at Laevedi. All the delegates gathered in hundreds at Mondemkhal to attend the Girijan conference .Comrades Koranna and Mangana were martyred in the shots fired by the landlords .In retaliation all the Girijan sheld demonstrations with arms, in the villages and intensified the seizure of crops and occupation of lands.

All the usurious debts of the landlords were rescinded.Effective controls were laid down to ensure fair prices  were delivered at village fairs. The victories being achieved by the Girijans in the fight against feudal expoitation in the Agency are inspired the Harijans,the Girijans,and all other rural poor into action in the Vatturu-Bhoomini area adjoining our agency. The people of that area took to struggle and occupy the Banjars that were illegally occupied by the landlords. They too gained some victories.’

The class foundation s of the agency area had begun to shiver and the government prepared for a large-scale offensive. Then it started to attack but the leadership of the Girijan Sangh initiated a retaliatory counter –attack. In those conditions, it was necessary to safeguard the gains and victories achieved in the struggle against feudal exploitation. It was necessary to organize resistance for self defence from the state’s attacks.

It was necessary to rally the rural poor in the adjoining areas of the agency, who were already in the move, into revolutionary action for land occupation. Some advocated that we should fight the government and conduct raids on the landlords. Already being in intense struggle, we thought that this would advance as a struggle which would completely demolish feudal exploitation and form a people’s state.Girijans participated on large scale in the attacks on the landlord’s houses. In those attacks the debt-deeds that heaped mountain-loads of burdens on the Girijans were destroyed then and there.

‘Gradually, the attacks started on the houses of landlords in the areas adjoining the agency. They took the form  of attacking the lanlord’s houses,murdering somebody or the other,and snatching the material wealth. They turned into actions unrelated to life patterns and practices of the people of those villages. Gradually the Girijans participation in these attacks declined .Such actions conducted in other districts were portrayed here as extension of the revolutionary movement to those villages.’

‘In such conditions, where these attacks themselves became the main task, the task of mobilizing the people and extending the foundations of the movement receded. The government took this as the excuse to intensify it’s attempts to base themselves in this area, which in many ways was the centre of the movement.’

‘In such circumstances, thousands of Girijans from this agency area were imprisoned and packed up in Vishakapatnam  and Rajahamundry jail.120 girijans were martyred, including comrades Vempatu Satyam and Adibhatla Kailasam.’

When the Girijans were released the landlords re-usurped their lands with the aid of police camps in villagesThe Girijan Sangh called for resolution on land issue again. Having faced immense repression and losing lives in the struggle the Girijan Sangh faced an immense task to re-start it’s activities. There was hardly support from other areas.

However again the activities of the Girijan Sangh were revived and the girijans  re-launched struggle for their lands. Inspired by the leadership of T.Nagi Reddy they started seizing lands wherever they were in that area on a large scale.

The girijan Sangh was revived. The government now launched a series  of programmes like distribution of house sites, digging of wells ,setting up fish tanks, supplying rice ,creating jobs etc to counter the work of the girijan sangh and divert the attention of the people. The government’s policy was not intended to solve the problem s of the Girijan masses of the Agency areas. That is why the Girijans of adjoining Orissa areas desire for incorporating their area into our region took place. These desires wee vented because of absence of capable leadership which could guided the people on the land issue.
Today openly these things are discussed in the papers. Previous methods of cheating over prices and weights in the purchases of the forest produce made by the Girijan corporation are taking roots again.Today again it is very important to unite the people into a fighting force. It is only when all the rural poor reeling under the feudal rule in the plains get prepared to fight for the occupation of the lands of the landlords that there will be beginning of the end on landlord’s atrocities.

However, we have been observing your methods of work, but have no direct experience We are not able to understand the objective of those methods. For instance, the Regulation 1/70 has been providing a little protection legally  on the issue of land, which is basic issue for Girijans in the agency area.N.T.Rama Rao when he was chief minister, withdrew the regulation 1/70.In response, the Girijans throughout the state, seriously  agitated, and undertook an extensive organized agitation against the withdrawal of regulation 1/70.Even the established newspaper had opposed it. We fail to understand why you do not question the government, even by the methods you are following.
We do not think that ,just by the regulation of 1.70 lands would belong to the Girijans.It is virtually a continuation of the 1917 regulation. The experiences we have gained so far teach us that only when all rural poor mobilize on the land issue ,as we did, and rock the foundations of feudalism through their mass revolutionary actions in still wider regions, will the shattering of the foundations of the state that stands guard over feudal exploitation take place. Earlier possessions of land by Girijans occurred because of great sacrifices they made and the struggles they waged under the leadership of the Girijan Sangh.But though the foundation of the landlords was shaken they have not been destroyed and we harbor no illusions that there is security for us.

To the extent that efforts are made by anybody to unite the people on the problems faced by them and to prepare them for struggles, the Girijan Sangh will offer support to the efforts. Only recently,Girijans,Harijans and other rural poor in the plains area adjacent to us,mobilsed to some extent on issue of land. The land-lords made severe attack son the Girijans in  the premise of the 1917 regulation. Similarly, now Regulation 1/70 can be an advantageous factor in the Girijan’s effort in the agency areas to intensify their struggle for land. To capture their lands they have to unite into a fighting force.

We request you to give us your opinion as to the tasks we need to take up in the present circumstances. We have been holding on to their lands seized with our long history of struggle.”

Below is another leaflet  written by the Girijan Sangaham in September 1992 where the Srikakulam Girijan Sangh deals with the concrete issue of squad actions in light of the overall context of the revolutionary movement. The Sangh upheld a mass revolutionary political approach. Above all it was an ideal illustration of mass revolutionary democratic political approach asserting the role of preparedness of  masses and building of peoples mass movements. The author wishes readers to refer to notes written by the late Comrade Tarimela Nagi Reddy in the early 1970’s on the mass line in armed struggle, combating the left adventurist line of Charu Mazumdar.

2nd letter(September,1992)

The news about the murder of Yedida Satyam by the Peoples war group on 28th August 1992 prominently came in the newspapers. We find it hard to agree with the political aims of the murder..For any organization which declares revolutionary politics as its basis of political conduct ,it’s every act has to serve revolutionary political purpose. We asked whether this action constituted a part of the revolutionary movement.

In the 1962 Indo-China war border clashes started.Pichuku Naidu,a member of the Girijan Sangh heroically defended China when asked for monetary help  for purpose of procuring arms from an officer to monetarily support the cause of India in the war. 

He replied ‘Chinese people are our people. How dare you ask for money to buy arms to fight them?”The officer was alarmed and sped away on his bicycle. When America attacked Vietnam the Girijan Sangh made a straw-studded effigy of American imperialists  and tied it to a post in the sun in front of the office of the Girijan Sangh.”The American imperialists shall roast in the sun for tow days.”All the Girijans fighting the landlords in the agency area went from village to village proclaiming “’the American Imperialist as the big landlord of the entire world and thus the Sangh meted out punishment to him for his atrocities on Vietnam.For 2 days the people thronged as if in a pilgrimage to the site of the effigy.

The consciousness demonstrated by comrades like Rengim who died heroically fighting the police face to face, by those who stood undaunted facing the police atrocities abd by those who refused to succumb to the brutal repression by police camps, was outstanding. When the movement was on the ebb hundreds were facing repression in jails, and slogans were raised of boycotting the courts. The Communist Party of India  persuaded people to defend the courts.The masses were unaware of the futility of the courts and wondered the purpose of boycotting the courts.The C.P.I made emotional speeches in public meetings thinking they would win over the Girijans .

However they could hardly provide the leadership to a programme.When Yediya Stayam murdered Korann and Mauganna,the girijans of the agency were outraged he girijan movement rose like a torrent .They occupied the lands on a large scale after returning from jails, striking at the foundation of the landlord class and not just assassinating Yediya Satyam as an individual. If such an individual is killed by a girijan it would be regarded as en expression of class hatred of a girijan.

However it becomes questionable if it is carried out as a main task of a revolutionary organization aiming to create radical transformation. We are unable to understand, what political purpose, such energy and capability as employed by the Peoples War Group will serve. It was not a part of peoples integral revolutionary practice and thus cannot be part of the revolutionary movement.

The PWG left a policy statement explaining why they assassinated Yedita Satyam.However did they explain what they would do with the relation to 120 girijans killed and to the assassination of Vempatu Satyam and Adibatla Kailasam during the whole period of the struggle after the martyrdom of Korann and Maganna.Such actions were executed when the struggle was at it’s peak Without people getting prepared for revolutionary action ,the landlord atrocities cannot end with warnings alone.

On the otherside, in the plains, in the village of Kassagdaba Valasa the landlords murdered 5 girijans in broad daylight. The landlords control most of the land, exploiting the labour and subjecting the people to all kinds of attacks and atrocities. The people were literally reduced to sheep and made victims of dire poverty, being denied proper food ,dwellings or medical facilities. The people are left with choosing dying of hunger, illness and landlord atrocities or combat the oppression of the feudal system.Only the immortal sacrifices of thousands of girijans who suffered in jails were any fruits attained. When the Girijan sangh was established the obstacles of landlord tyranny were a major obstacle which it boldly confronted.

The atrocities of the landlords will not end without preparing the people for revolutionary mass action in a way that the lands of the landlords are seized and the class foundation of landlords destroyed. Checking the landlord atrocities without dismantling the feudal class structure is like getting rid of mosquito bites by catching and killing each mosquito that flies out of the breeding pits, without clearing the muck  and filling the breeding pit, where the mosquitos continuously grow. When we attempt to fill that pit in which the mosquitos breed the mosquitos flare up desperately. Should we divert from attempts to cover up those pits by getting engrossed in killing these mosquito or to start sincerely covering up the pits. We must give importance to cover up the breeding pits.

Please give us a necessary explanation, if you think that the understanding and practice of the Girijan Sangham is incorrect.”

i.e.girijans are a tribal communist from Andhra Pradesh.

Homage to Comrade Nimmala Krishnamurthy. (secretary of the Srikakulam Girijan Sangham who died on June 24th,1996)

Born in 1931-32 , in an interior agency area in Srikakulam.At theage of 25 joined the Girijan Sangham founded by Comrdae Vempatu Satyam and Adibhatala Kailasam.

In 1960 joined he Communist Party of India.When the first spilt took place he joined the C.P.M.Soon he was friustrated with it’s revisionist policies and he joined the ranks of the Communist revolutionaries.

He was an active participant in the various struggles led by the Girijan Sangham on issues such as higher salaries for farm servants, abolition of bonded labour,higher wages for agricultura labour etc.

He faced the repression unleashed by landlords andt he state often .After the Srikakulam Movement began on 11th November 1968 he emerged as affront rank fighter.

He played a prominent role in the first peoples armed action for the confiscation of properties of the landlords in Pedagottili.

After the Srikakulam Girijan movement got intensified he went underground and was a member of the party organisation’s agency committee. He was in charge of the medical wing. When the Girijan movement met a setback and he armed squads were demoralized, he was arrested in 1972.

He was kept in the Vishakapatnam Cental jail during he trial of the Parvathipuram Conspiracy case.In 1975 he was released after the cases against him were dismissed. From 1975 he tried to re-organise the Girijan Sangham and now joined the U.C.C.R.I.(M.L).He took a principled stand against wrong tendencies .In 1988 he served as a member of the C.C.R.I ,then and from 1995 the C.P.R.C.I.(M.L),into which the C.C.R.I merged.

Throughout this period he exhibited relentless endurance, not losing heart in the greatest of difficulties, exhibiting the tenacity of Comrades in the Vietnam War ,the Great Patriotic War Etc. He made great efforts in re-organizing the Srikakulam peasant Movement and building he party Organization in he area. Like a true crusader. Unfortunately as a result of ill heath he died on 24t June 1996.

Red Salutes to Comrade ‘Srikakulam' Rama Rao(martyred on October 31st,2009)

Comrade Rama Rao was the secretary of the Vizianagaram-Srikakulam Area Committee of  the Communist Party Re-Organization Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) for a period of 14 years.Sadly he expired of jaundice on October 31st,2009.Inspite of efforts to save him, he succumbed. The struggle of this veteran comrade lit a red torch in the heart of comrades. He stood for the liberation of the masses treading the steepest of cliffs and the densest of forests. They combated any obstacle with fists of iron .They stood up for the mass line with rock-like determination.

Comrade Rama Rao was born in a very poor Dalit family in Dundugopalapuram village of Srikakulam district on March 8th,1948. Rama Rao was inducted into revolutionary politics by prominent communist teacher,Pondala Venkata Ramana Murthy,and gained his first lessons from him as well as the teachers of the office of the Andhra Pradesh Teachers federation. From 1965 he joined the Students federation nad supported the agitation for a steel plant in Visakha.

His contact with APTF leaders like Ramana Murthy,A.V.Chainulu,Blakrishnamma and Appaya Master ,he was drawn to the Srikakaulam Girijan Movement.There he met comrades like Panchadi Krishnamurthy,Vasantada Ramalingachari,Vempatu Satyanarayana,D.V.Rao and T.Nagi Reddy.
During the Srikakulam movement he participated in a people’s action against a money-lender,Sakala Bhaktala Krishnamurthy of Kapu Umilada village in September 1969.After 2 weeks he was arrested, spending 2 years in prison. In 1971 he was released on bail.

After being released he went to work in Bhillai Steel plant. In 1973 Venkata Ramana Murthy,inspired rama Rao to return to Srikakulam.In that period ,under the leadership of T.Nagi Reddy,mass political struggle was conducted to revive the Srikakulam movement.In 1975 he joined the Unity centre of Communist revolutionaries of India and became the district secretary of the Srikakulam-Vizianagaram Area Committee.

From 1976 he joined the Andhra-Orissa Border regional Committee, and from July 1983 to December 1985,became it’s secretary.In this period he made an impact in 3 areas. In Cheerupali area a youth organization was formed. In the Agency area agitations of Girijans were launched over issues of forest products and remunerative prices, and for the construction of the Varthada reservoir and check dam. In Bobbili he gave political direction to the Kalasi Sangham.In this time he married comrade Shanti.

Rama Rao bravely fought against wrong trends combating D.V.Rao’s right deviationist line in 1980 and later in 1988 became a part of the Centre of Communist revolutionaries of India. From 1989 he made immense efforts in reviving the revolutionary movement for massline in SrikakulamInspite of pressure from family and friends he persisted with his work like swimming in the most turbulent of seas.

In 1995 after the formation of the Communist Party Re-Organization Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) ,he took  the task of reviving the Girijan Sangh. He initiated the building of pocketwise committees in place of a district-wide committee.

In this period a struggle was launched for the demand for the Dekuraigedda reservoir and distribution of forest lands between Chintalakoridi and Arikakoridi villages among the landless girijans.T he Srikakulam Girijan Sangh resisted tenaciously .

A new village called Vempaturam was formed after great revolutionary martyr Vempapatu Satyanarayana.The villagers heroically resisted attempts to disperse them and to  loot their timber which they collected .With great perseverance com Rama Rao guided the people in solving the contradictions.

In Bobbili town, he devoted his attention to the Kalasi Sangham defending the aspect of workers themselves becoming leaders of the Union. He refused an offer from the workers to accept the post of official adviser to the Union,explaining it was improper. In 2008 ,on May Day ,all the unions  of the Bobili council participated in the May Day programme.

He meticulously studied the literature of all genuine Communist revolutionary groups, particularly the C.P.R.C.I.(M.L.)

Com Rama Rao was the most modest of comrades .He never resisted admitting his mistakes and shortcomings and always balanced in making criticism of actions of other comrades. He would above all strive to work which those who were critical of him or had differences, abstaining from factional methods and applying principled political method of struggle. Thus cadres from other groups liked him immensely.He never demanded even the smallest facility from the Girijans,even when he stayed at their homes.

Before  his depth he displayed exemplary courage in battling his disease which reflected his great qualities.

Thus Com Rama Rao is a living example of a person standing upto the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism(or Mao Tse Tung Thought)His life is an example of how the ideology of MLM transforms an individual  and how it can be applied at every juncture. His spirit burns like a red flame in Srikakulam today. The Girijan community literally treated him as their own brother. In the gathering on October 31st in memory of martyrs of the Srikakulam movement their tears literally kissed the soil,-weeping uncontrollably. His death in October 2009 was a loss to the communist revolutionary movement as a whole.We must all bow down in his memory.

Red Salutes to Comrade Srikakulam Rama Rao!

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